How to answer the Net Promoter Score question

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is widely used by companies to assess their product. Whilst it may have some use as a standard format for assessment of user satisfaction, in practice it frequently seems to be used as a corporate top-trumps ego exercise.

Fortunately the definition means it follows a very rigid format so - provided you know the format - it's extraordinarily easy to manipulate (at least, as far as one person can).

The question is in this format:

How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?

The answer is a scale from 0 to 10. 0-6 is a detractor, 7-8 is passive and 9-10 is a promoter. The NPS score is the percentage of detractors subtracted from the percentage of promoters.

Essentially there are three possible answers but, as some people will be running the numbers in a misguided attempt to work out how far they have to "move the needle" to turn detractors into promoters, I use the following guide when answering an NPS survey:

  1. 0: Your company/product/service may be good but your NPS survey was annoying (it was probably a modal dialogue1 that distracted me from my task). The person who made the decision to implement it in this way should be fired3.
  2. 1: Your company/product/service is bad and you should feel bad.
  3. 6: Your company/product/service isn't bad but I want to count as a detractor because I think your ego could do with trimming down a bit.
  4. 7: Your company/product/service is OK but not good enough for me to want to count as a promoter to stroke your ego.
  5. 9: Your company/product/service is one of the very few good enough for me to grant you licence to boast about it on my behalf.


  1. I have an entirely rational hatred of modal dialogues on web pages based on observing usability and accessibility testing2. If you can't find an alternative solution to using a modal dialogue then you aren't qualified to be in a position that gives you the opportunity to use a modal dialogue.^
  2. That and, you know, actually applying my experience of using websites myself to websites I build.^
  3. This person is clearly prepared to sacrifice your users' needs in order to placate your desire to boost your ego.^